The lesson here is probably more straightforward than in the fiend story.
But of course, that doesn’t mean we understood the real meaning behind it. At least, not until that that day, where in our endless despair and sadness, we saw a true karma demon before our very eyes…
Sorry, sometimes as I’m writing, a flood of memories threaten to suffocate me and I can’t control it. Let’s go back to my childhood.
Like I wrote before, Kamisu 66 is made up of seven villages. In the center is where the town’s administration is gathered. On the eastern bank of the Tone River is the village of Hayring. To the north, in the middle of a forest dotted with big houses, is Pinewind. East of that, the forest opened up to the coastlands, where Whitesand is. Adjacent to Hayring in the south is the village of Waterwheel. On the other bank of the river toward the northwest is the village Outlook, whose name comes from its location. Lined up with the rice paddies in south is Gold, and Oakgrove is the westmost.
My hometown is Waterwheel. This name probably needs a bit of explanation. Dozens of canals leading off of the Tone River wind through Kamisu 66 and people come and go by boats. Despite that, the constant movement of the water meant it was clean enough to bathe in, though you might think twice about drinking it. In front of my house, in addition to a lot of brightly colored red and white koi swimming around, there were also a lot of water wheels, which is where the name comes from. Every village has water wheels, our village has quite a number of them, and they made for a magnificent sight. Overshot, backshot, undershot, breastshot… Those are all the ones I can remember. There might have been more. A lot of them were used to relieve us of mundane tasks like hulling rice and milling wheat.
Among them was a kind of water wheel only some villages had, with metal blades used to generate electricity. The valuable energy is used to power the loudspeakers on the roof of the public hall. Uses of electricity outside of this was strictly prohibited by the Code Ethics.
Every day just before sunset, the loudspeakers would play the same melody. It’s called “Going Home” and came from a part of a symphony written a long, long time ago by a composer with the strange name of Dvorak. The lyrics we learned in school go something like this.1
The sun sets over the distant mountains
Stars stud the sky
Today’s work is finished
My heart feels light
In the cool evening breeze
Come, gather around
The bonfire burning brightly in the darkness
Now dies down
Sleep comes easily
Inviting me to disappear
Gently watching over us
Come, let us dream
Let us dream
When the song plays, all the children playing in the fields had to return home. That’s why whenever I think of the song, sunset sceneries reflexively appear in my mind. The town during twilight. Long shadows on the sandy soil of the pine forest. Dozens of grey skies reflected in mirrored surface of the paddy fields. Groups of red dragonflies. But the most vivid memories are of watching the sunset from the top of the hill.
When I close my eyes, one scene comes to mind. It was some time between the end of summer and the beginning of autumn, when the weather had just started getting cooler.
“We have to go home now,” someone said.